I have included a few little handy bits of information that will hopefully be useful when touching down in France’s capital city.
Food: The local markets are many and varied in Paris; we tried Marché Bastille, the best food market in the whole city. Well worth a look if you are feeling like a fresh fruit and vegetable stock up of your pantry; bread, fish, vegies, fruit including raspberries and strawberries, fresh juices, cakes, olives and you get the point. It is located on Boulevard Richard Lenoir and happens every Thursday, get in early as around lunch it is so busy you can barely move.
The bakeries are nothing like those found in Australia, such decadence in every bite, and fresh bread lining the walls; the girl behind the counter giggled at us as we ordered one after another of petite cheesecakes and filled sponges. She looked like she never ate a cake in her life, all curves and sensual Parisian accent, I think there had been many a tourist here before us, consuming all that Paris has to offer.
If you are trying to save a few pennies on food, other than the markets, try the supermarkets around town they have everything except for good quality bread, and are half the price of the corner stores and eating at restaurants everyday.
Accommodation: Leaving things to the last minute is not always the best idea when travelling, especially when it comes to saving money as the best deals are usually had when booking in advance. That’s how we ended up in our hotel – Hotel Voltaire Republique, not in the Latin Quarter or Montmarte like I initially planned, but very centrally located in Republique, and within 30 – 45 minutes walking distance to every attraction you could possibly want to see in Paris. It was safe, clean and fairly reasonably priced as far as hotels in Paris go; had numerous metro stations and was not too expensive for a taxi to the Tour Eiffel.
Language: It is a rule I have travelled by that even if you are not fluent in a language you can still get by with a few polite words and a bit of effort, it worked when I visited China (a language that is not in the slightest an easy one to learn, let alone read). You will be amazed at the amount of people that will try to help give you mini French lessons if you show a bit of initiative, our first experience was with a Laotian Parisian taxi driver from the airport.
A few useful words to know for Paris (& France):
Bonjour (bohN-zhoohr)= Hello
Merci (mehr-see) = Thank you
S’il vous plait (seel vooh pleh) = Please
Excusez-moi/Pardon (eks-kew-zey-mwah/pahr-dohN) = Excuse me
A few of my favourite words:
Allons-y! = Let’s Go
Amour = Love
Splendide = Gorgeous
Free Sights to See: Practically all the sights in Paris are free as most of what you will probably want to look at is the buildings, architecture and views of the city. Tour Eiffel, Avenue Des Champs Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, Ecolle Militaire, Cimetiére Du Pére Lachaise, Moulin Rouge (not including entrance), Musée Du Louvre (entrance is free every first Sunday of the month), Pantheon, St Germain Des Pres, Notre Dame Cathedral (not including entrance), Sacré Coeur, Place de Tertre, Pont Des Arts (Lovers Bridge) and the list goes on.
Essentials for Paris: waterproof jacket or umbrella, muesli bars (for energy on the go), decent walking shoes, light jumper or cardigan, picnic blanket for lying on the grass under the Tour Eiffel, and of course a baguette.